AIBU…. Why do we not have more SAHDs?

(76 Posts)
LittleChickpea Thu 28-Mar-13 15:52:10

To be confused? Read a lot of articles on this and I was wondering what mumnetters think? If it's of any interest.

It seems there is a feeling that mums end up giving up their careers to stay at home with the DC (for whatever reason) and are treated unfairly for it.

So for those couples that are affected by this? Do men simply not want to stay home or does the idea of men staying home rather than the women have little appeal to families? Does this even get discussed when the decision is made as to who will be the primary care giver if one parent is to stay at home for a number of months/years. Do women with high flying careers think the idea of a SAHD is laughable or not? Would current SAHMs be happy to work full time and their DP be the full time SAHP (taking salary into account - if you earned his exact salary)? Is the growing number of SAHDs a side effect of the economy?

Really interested in hearing what people think.

exoticfruits Thu 28-Mar-13 17:08:14

Personal preference. I would hate to be the one to go out to work.

nenevomito Thu 28-Mar-13 17:11:45

I'd give my left boob for DH to be a SAHD, but he did it once and said never again.

His reasons why not include feeling out of place when discussing what he was doing with male friends with serious and non-serious piss taking right through to hating being the only man at playgroups and being a 'novelty'.

Until there's a shift-change in people's expectations of men and women, it's not likely to change.

mumsnoc Thu 28-Mar-13 17:16:05

What squeaky said. I think expecting there to ever be some sort of equality of numbers between SAHDs and SAHMs is a futile, academic exercise. There are perfectly natural, logical and indeed, biological reasons for there to be a higher number of SAHMs than SAHDs and this will always be the case unless society is forcibly (and, IMO, unnaturally) engineered otherwise.

I think we should be more concerned with improving the lot of families and women in general so that being a SAHP is a viable option and is recognised as a valuable way of contributing to society. Many people think that the only kind of work that is valuable to society, and should be facilitated and rewarded, is work for personal, monetary gain. This is what needs to change. Voluntary work is very important too and that includes people who care for their own children full-time. It is also why maternity leave benefits and conditions must be upheld by law i.e. that society must not allow women to be discriminated against or marginalised for taking maternity leave.

Shellington Thu 28-Mar-13 17:21:48

I have heard a lot of the following, in relation to a SAHD recently:

How is he coping?
Is he managing?
How are they getting on with being a SAHD?
How is he finding it?

Take from it what you will! I don't recall ever hearing these said, definately not in the same tone / way - with the <head tilt> - to a SAHM.

tomverlaine Thu 28-Mar-13 17:42:53

There are a lot of factors to consider
- finances - a lot of couples need both partners to work.
Relative earning - it would be interesting to know the stats but i think even before children there is often a salary inbalance- women often marry up (eg someone who earns more0 or someone who is older (and hence all other things being equal will earn more);
men will often see their career as meaning more than just the money - so even if it didn't cover the chidcare cost they see it as a more long term investment- it is also (for a lot of men) key to their identity.
Women are generally off for a chunk of time with maternity leave which can create a more natural flow into SAHM - and also mean that the man has already got accustomed to working parenthood

But I just don't think that most men even consider it- its not a matter of evaluating it as an option and dismissing it - its never even considered.

nightowlmostly Thu 28-Mar-13 18:21:26

A lot of people at work ask me how my DH is getting on being at home yada yada, but I think it's an unusual choice so is bound to attract comment. Most people are just making small talk anyway I think!

I just hope that it becomes more normal as time goes on. The sexism surrounding this issue is negative for men as well as for women. For men, they are expected by society to be happy working full time and 'providing'. If they did want to be at home it's seen as weird and unmanly.

On the other hand they never get asked how they can bear to be apart from their children, it's never asked of them that if they were never going to see their kids why did they even have them if they work. So in that respect it's women who get the shitty end of the stick if they don't fall into a traditional role.

I believe that the more people who organise their family's life this way the better off we'll all be. Employers will have to expect men as well as women to request flexible working or take expended paternity, so women won't be so discriminated against in the workplace.

LittleChickpea Thu 28-Mar-13 18:42:48

It's interesting reading your responses and comparing them to SAHM focused discussions. I am a professional career women due ttc my first. 1 mc that's how i found mumsnet. My intention is to go back after six weeks (dependant on birth and probably unrealistic) and this may well change post baby, I understand that. Could I ask. How does the SAHP work or social based discrimination manifest itself in your opinion? And do you think the discrimination faced between a SAHM and a SAHD differs? I note the comments about men feel uncomfortable with peers ect.

I've been a SAHM for 12 years. DH was made redundant last year, and we've decided that we'd like him to be a SAHD and me go back to work. Of course in theory this is great, but in practice...well we'll see what happens. I'm signing on atm and we're both frantically applying for jobs. It's a case of whoever manages to get a job first will be the working parent, the other will be a SAH parent.

Meringue33 Thu 28-Mar-13 19:00:05

Surely it's the pay gap more than anything? DP is a natural parent, he'd be a great SAHD... But he earns nearly twice what I do (is only two years older and we have only just started our family).

mumofweeboys Thu 28-Mar-13 19:07:58

My dh was sahd for 3 years with ds1 as I had a more secure job. He did find it hard. He went to toddler groups but often got ignored or was unwelcome in conversation and my dh is very sociable. He never got play dates so was often left just with ds for company. He went back to work ft after I had ds2.

INeedThatForkOff Thu 28-Mar-13 19:17:13

I would earn £10k more than DH if I went back to work FT. However his employers would not allow him to work PT (in fact they've refused a flexible working request in the past on fairly spurious grounds). Even if they would, personally I want to be at home with my DCs as much as I can because I'm their mum, and I feel that there's nothing better for them even though their dad is great. I'm aware that's an old-fashioned and somewhat sexist attitude though. And I think I'd struggle to be a FT SAHM.

somewherewest Thu 28-Mar-13 19:19:16

DH and I split the SAHPing between us, with DH doing about a third of it. He's great with our one year old and they love spending time together. We both felt that we would ideally like one parent at home with DC for the first few years, but we were very pragmatic about who that would be and it turned out to be both of us. I think DH would find full-time SAHDing isolating though. Obviously 99% of SAHPs are women and have their own networks that it isn't easy for an SAHD to feel part of. For example DH takes DS to a toddler group once week and some of the women will just not chat to him or make any effort to include him. I have no idea why.

partTimeWorker Thu 28-Mar-13 19:40:04

As I posted on another thread - we split the working and the stay-at-homing exactly down the middle - both work 3 days, do childcare for 2 days, with 1 day of nursery for the day we both work.

We love it- both keep careers going, both get to spend time with DS. I think it has worked because we are similarly qualified, and have similar earning power, so financially there was no bias to one or other of us working/ not working.

DH has encountered some negativity from his work colleagues (most of whom are male) but also envy from others, I've had neither response. I don't think DH has encountered negativity outside work - there are other part-time working fathers in our NCT group, who we meet up with regularly, and also at the playgroup he takes DS to.

Sadly, this arrangement is coming to an end - I am being made redundant (company folding) and all the roles advertised in my area are full-time, so if I manage to get another job, DS will probably be in nursery 3 days a week (if we can manage to get extra days, otherwise goodness knows what we'll do - but that's a whole other thread)- and DH will still have his 2 days at home with him.

LadyLech Thu 28-Mar-13 19:49:31

In my case, it certainly wasn't down to the Money..

In terms of our hourly rates, I earn more than my DH, and I have the career as opposed to DH who would say he has a job.

Yet, when we had children, I wanted to stay at home with the children. DH couldn't imagine anything worse. So I went part time. Even now the DC are at school, it would financially make more sense for me to go full time and DH to go part time and do the pick ups. Yet neither of us want that, and tbh I think I would resent DH if he did what I consider to be my 'job'. So I work part time (0.75) and dh works full time, and we cope with the loss inincome (but we're both happier this way).

louisianablue2000 Thu 28-Mar-13 20:03:11

I only know 1 SAHP and that's a Dad. He treats it like a job and is very active on lots of voluntary organisations. It will be interesting to see if he manages to get back into work when they are all at school.

DH and I both work 4 days a week and personally I think both doing part time work is a better arrangement for everyone. The kids get to spend time with each of us (rather than never seeing the wage slave) and we both get to progress/maintain our careers which gives us more financial security. I don't get why it has to be an either or situation.

IncrediblePhatTheInnkeepersCat Thu 28-Mar-13 20:42:44

I've just gone back to work after 7 months maternity leave, with DH now a SAHD. I'm still breastfeeding before/after work. It made sense for us as I'm the one with a stable/secure career (teacher) and DH is a self-employed builder whose work comes in fits and starts.

I'd love to be the one home, but we need the security. DH also has some physical health issues, which work exacerbates, so glad that he can have a stretch of taking it physically easier. If a job comes up, my DM will have DS unless it falls on my holidays/day off.

DH was apprehensive to begin with, but is now loving it. The only thing is that he's still too nervous to go to baby groups (I went to loads on maternity leave) as he's worried that he'll feel out of place. However, he did talk to one mum at the park today, so think he will brave it at some point. His best friend is also a SAHD in the same work position as us.

NumericalMum Thu 28-Mar-13 22:46:22

I think it is more common than a few years ago but there is tremendous stigma attached. My DH has faced enough trouble when he asked to leave "early" (5pm) to fetch our DC one day a week. If DC is sick then he struggles to get work to allow him to stay home (they always say why can't your wife). I took most of the strain before DC started school with leaving at 5 on the dot to sprint to the station and more sick days etc. my boss never gave it a moment's notice but I think society always expects the mum to do the childcare still. I would never want to be a SAHP and whilst I think DH would want to more than me he would never do it because of the negativity he perceives from colleagues, "friends" and probably our families too. We both earn similar amounts and we both hae similar prospects in the future.

nokidshere Thu 28-Mar-13 23:55:12

My DH would have given up work in a shot to be a sahd. And still would. Except we cant afford for him to give up work and I can earn the same from home as I can in my chosen workplace.

Shame - he would be much better at it than I am smile

jellybeans Fri 29-Mar-13 00:00:29

'considering it it the woman who has to carry the baby, give birth to it, and whose body has to recover after giving birth, as well as breastfeeding being the preferred method of feeding.. it is logical that more women than men will be the SAHP. '

Agree with squeakytoy

PenelopeLane Fri 29-Mar-13 00:38:22

I think it happens in clusters, and ideas about it is changing as well. We had friends with SAHD's, so when I had DS, DH and I split the year. DH loved it.

Based on reactions from people I know when DH went on paternity leave, the main response was simply that it hadn't occurred to most couples that the man would go off. For whatever reason, most people just roll with the status quo. Some because they considered it and that's what worked for them, and some because they didn't consider it at all so just went with the norm.

FWIW it was really really good to have done. DH and DS built a really strong bond, and now we're both at work again (4 days each) I really do feel like DH is a partner in every sense in terms of housework and sharing the load because we both have a complete understanding of what's required to be done. Before he went on paternity leave, that wasn't the case.

Of course some people have that anyway, but for us, it really helped.

PenelopeLane Fri 29-Mar-13 00:39:30

louisa agreed with the 4 days each point. Another bonus is we get one-on-one time with DS each week, and both look forward to it.

BlingLoving Fri 29-Mar-13 07:32:23

Op - I think you are over thinking slightly. If you do go back at 6 weeks and your dp becomes a sahp, he will have to muddle through. Any discrimination or discomfort men feel seems to vary according to who the man is and where you are. My dh finds that while he doesn't do play dates etc, because he's so much more "visible", he gets lots of people chatting to him and he's struck up casualnrelationships with certain women he sees at play groups or whatever.

As a career person myself, my one comment re the six week thing is that even if you are not bf, you may find the nights difficult. If you can afford it, you may need to hire help at night. Dh is amazing but, like most men I know, just isn't as sensitive to ds crying as I am. So will getup, but I have to wake him and it means that at that age, I really struggled with sleep still so would not have been able to go back to work without more night help.

Yama Fri 29-Mar-13 07:52:58

Dh and I were both brought up by working parents. We both work and have never considered sahping. We earn roughly the same amount.

Susandeath Fri 29-Mar-13 08:28:59

When I was pregnant with my first dc I was going to be the full time worker, and my DH was going to be the sahd. I earned more than him and had a good career in I.T. At six months pregnant I broke down in tears and said that I couldn't do it, I wanted to be at home with my baby. Ten years later, I have three dc, and have retrained as a childminder. Best decision I ever made. Yes money has been tight, but I enjoy being with my children, and wouldn't want it any other way. Not everyone has the choice though, my friend had to go back to work when her dc was 3 months.

My DH would be happy to stay at home.

We can't do it that way because he earns considerably more than me and my wage would not support us.

This is true for loads of families.

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